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Qinghai-Tibet Railway Introduction
Written on 23rd March 2017

Length: 1,960 km (1,217 miles)

Average speed: Between 100 and 120 km/hour (62 to 75 miles per hour)

Time needed: approximately 24 hours (Xining to Lhasa)


  • World's highest railway, the highlight section of ALL Tibet trains

  • Stunningly beautiful scenery between Qinghai and Tibet, good for sightseeing and photography.

  • Money saving comparing to flights

  • Easier to guarantee tickets than from other cities.

  • Staying 2 nights in Xining before boarding the train ride will help to acclimatize the altitude as the train will go up to 5000+ meters high Tanggula Pass. 


Qinghai-Tibet Railway extends east to west from Xining in Qinghai to Lhasa, with a total length of 1,956 km, of which xining-Golmud section (841 km) was completed in 1979 and came into service in 1984. The Golmud-Lhasa section of Qinghai-Tibet Railway stretches from the city of Golmud in Qinghai province in the north, via Nachitai, Wudaoliang, Tuotuohe, Yanshiping, climbing over Tanggula Mountains, then via Amdo, Nagchu, Dangxiong, Yangpachen, south to Lhasa, with a total length of 1,142 km, including a newly-built line of 1,110 km which formally came into operation on June 29th, 2001. Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a railway in plateau with the world’s highest altitude and longest route, and was opened to traffic officially on July 1st, 2006. Qinghai-Tibet Railway, as the landmark project in implementing the strategy of the western development, serves as one of the four major projects in the new century in China.

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                                                                                                    Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Detailed Introduction to Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Qinghai-Tibet Railway has already opened up 7 routes to the holy city Lhasa, currently including Guangzhou-Lhasa, Shanghai-Lhasa, Beijing-Lhasa, Lanzhou-Lhasa, Sining-Lhasa, Chengdu-Lhasa and Chongqing-Lhasa routes. The train passenger stations available to Lahsa include 26 cities and towns, namely, Beijing, Guangzhou, Changsha, Wuchang, Zhengzhou, Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang, Shanghai, Wuxi, Nanjing, Bengbu, Xuzhou, Xi'an, Chengdu, Guangyuan, Baoji, Chongqing, Gwangan, Dazhou, Lanzhou, Sining, Delingha, Golmud, Tuotuohe, Amdo, Nagchu and Dangxiong. The train type is mainly express with air condition, and non-stop train numbers are T264(T265), T164(T165), T22(T23), T222(T223), T27, K9802 and K917, arriving at the terminal station of Lhasa.

Most lines of Qinghai-Tibet Railway are in the high altitude areas and the “No Man's Land”, and it is required to overcome the three major problems of ever-frozen ground and high altitude anoxia, fragile ecosystem and bad weather.

In accordance with the weather, environment and snowy plateau scenery, the integrated design of the tourism trains of Qinghai-Tibet Railway not only embodies modernization and comfort but also solves especially the service conditions required to accommodate plateau natural environment and bad weather technically. Firstly, it is the satisfaction of oxygen supply. The train adopts the method of combining the diffuse type of oxygen supply and the distributed oxygen uptake, which both increases the oxygen content in the train and guarantees passengers’ need of supplementing oxygen uptake. Secondly, it is the satisfaction of environmental protection requirements. The totally enclosed carriage is equipped with recovery devices for rubbish, waste water and garbage. Thirdly, in the selection and use of electric and non-metallic materials, etc., the train satisfies the requirements of special environment in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

The sleeping carriage is equipped with compartments with bath facilities and dining cars providing catering service. The sightseeing vehicle is provided with capacious glass and easeful seats; the interior decoration of the carriage is not only luxurious and modern, but also fully reveals the folk custom in Qinghai-Tibet region; tourists can view and admire the scenery along the line. The train is not only equipped with oxygen supply equipments but also prepared to be deployed with medical personnel, instruments and medicines so as to establish a life-support system for tourists.

Ecological Impact

In order to solve the problem of “fragile ecology”, attention has been paid to decrease the ecological impact to the greatest extent when designing the train. In the natural reserve areas, the railway line is projected by following the principle of “passing round as much as possible”. The construction site, service road and gravel stock ground are all repeatedly explored to avoid vegetation deterioration to the greatest extent. In the sections difficult for vegetations to grow, the method of piecemeal transplantation is adopted whereas in the sections with slightly better natural conditions, the method of artificial turf cultivation is adopted. The participation unit has signed environmental protection liability statement with the environmental protection administrations in both Qinghai province and Tibet Autonomous Region province, and actively accepts their supervision and inspection. The environmental protection supervision system is also implemented along the whole line.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway passes the two national nature reserves of Hoh Xil and Qiangtang. In order to protect wildlife, 25 migration channels for wildlife have been built along the railway. The electronic monitor for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Construction General Headquarters testifies that large amount of Tibet Autonomous Region an antelopes have already passed the migration channels for wildlife along the railway. It is indicated by the investigations conducted by environmental protection agency and other departments that ever since the commencement of Qinghai-Tibet Railway construction, the frozen earth, vegetation, wetland environment, natural landscape, and water quality of rivers along the line have been protected efficiently without obviously affecting the ecological environment in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Significance of Constructing Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Constructing Qinghai-Tibet Railway has accelerated the economic development in Qinghai province and Tibet Autonomous Region province, promoted the process of west development, reinforced the connection of other domestic vast areas with Tibet Autonomous Region and promoted the cultural exchange of Tibet Autonomous Region with other nationalities as well. It has especially changed the current unreasonable energy structure in Tibet Autonomous Region and fundamentally satisfied the long-term need of protecting the ecological environment in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. After Qinghai-Tibet Railway is opened up, 75% of the goods and materials in and out of Tibet Autonomous Region will be borne by railway, which offsets the disadvantages of previous road transportation, including long load distance, high freight and heavy wastage.